Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Computer Repairs, Round Two

There's no normal blog post here today because my computer, which I got back from repairs on Monday night, still isn't working. (I actually wrote a funny post about it--but the computer chewed it up and spit it out.)

I called tech support yesterday, and they categorized me as a "failed repair." I tried to find out what that meant, but no one seemed to be able to explain it. Apparently, I'm waiting on a "decision" from the higher ups. Maybe they're deciding to actually fix my computer. That would be nice.

In the meantime, I'm missing everyone (readers and other bloggers).

File:Bruegge View from Rozenhoedkaai.jpg
This photo has nothing to do with my post. But it's gorgeous and it's Wednesday--we all need a moment or two of escape. Maybe it will keep me from taking a sledge hammer to my computer. This photo is from Wikimedia Commons, and it's their Picture of the Day. The photographer is Arcalino.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing Without My Laptop

I still haven’t gotten my computer back. It was supposed to arrive on Friday, so techno-daughter could help me fix the computer over the weekend. But, hopefully, it will arrive today and I can begin the process, just without someone to hold my hand through it.

But I’ve learned something. No matter how hard it is to write. I will write.

I wrote long hand. On lined notebook paper, on scraps of computer paper, and even on polka-dotted yellow Snoopy paper.

I wrote without my writing routine. Which was really, really hard. Like most writers, I have my routine—my first drafts are written on the couch where warm Eastern light streams through the arched window. Editing is done on my bed where the room is cool and Northern light filters through a hexagonal window. Okay, I’m a little odd. But I’m not the only one. Edith Wharton wrote in bed and everything had to be just so. When she traveled, she had hotel staff move the bed so that light from the window fell “just right” across her paper.

I transcribed my scribbles from paper to the lame computer (and I’m very thankful for it) with the titled screen while sitting the peeling faux leather chair—where I am currently writing this blog post.

So, I’m telling myself that this very extended no computer time has actually been a blessing because I’ve learned patience and I’ve grown in my understanding of myself as a writer…yeah, I’m not buying it either, but that’s what I’m telling myself.

N.B. Tomorrow Screwing Up Time is going on sale at Amazon for 99 cents!

File:Gordijnen aan venster.JPG
This isn't my window--no laptop, no way to process and upload photos--but  I love the way the light comes through . I think I could write there. It's a bed and breakfast in Tallin. Photo by Nieuw, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Computer Repair: What I'm Doing for the Next Two Months

My computer is fixed and on the way home. Normally, this would be a good thing. It’s not.

The techno-loser at the under-warranty-repair-place called me:  Miz Keller, it turns out that it’s not your motherboard. You have a corrupt operating system.

Me: Oh.

Techno-loser-repair-person: So we need your permission to wipe your computer.

Me: Oh, right. (Yes, I’m really clever.)  I made an image of my computer on an external hard, so I guess that will be okay. (I ignore niggling anxiety that tells me I’m missing something.)

Techno-loser (who no doubt knows what I’m missing): So we can wipe it?

Me: Uh, yes.

Techno-person: Thanks. (hangs up)

Niggling anxiety smacks me in the face with the truth of the situation.

I email techno-daughter at work. “My computer has a corrupt OS. They’re doing a wipe. I’m now in serious kim chee, right? Because when I restore the image, I’ll be restoring the corrupt OS, right?”

Techno-daughter emails me back while waiting for the work computers to compile(?) her new math equations so the work computers can reach programming nirvana: “Yes.”

Me: ACK!

Clearly, my scream was quite loud. Techno-daughter emails. “Don’t panic.” (Too, too late) “Just make recovery disks of the OS when the computer arrives. Then load the image. Then save every file you want to the external hard drive or Dropbox. Then, do a system wipe and recovery. Then, reload saved files.  No big deal.”

Me: Seriously. No big deal. If you don’t hear from me in the next two months, it’s because I’m still in the process of fixing my computer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sick computer

My computer is still in the shop. :(

I'm trying to get by with an antiquated desk top with a weird keyboard--you have to smack the keys to get them to type. It's not too conducive to writing bog posts.  But once the laptop is back, I'll be posting again.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Five

My computer is currently is the shop for repairs--apparently, it has a bad motherboard.

So for today's Friday Five, the five worst things about not having a computer.

1. Having to mooch a computer.

2. Remembering that mooched computer does not have my favorite's bar nor do any any of the sites I visit regularly "remember me" on the mooched computer, so I have to try to remember all my user names and passwords. Do you know how many combinations there are of the four or five user names I regularly use and the four or five standard passwords?

3. Mooched computer does NOT have MS Word, so I can't write!!

4. Mooched computer was rejected by my children because it's out-dated, has no useful software, and has tilted screen--I think I'm getting a crick in my neck.

5. Did I mention mooched computer does NOT have a word processor, so I can't write?!

I'm telling myself that it's a blessing because I can now get caught up on yard work. But I'm not believing it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Four Hundred Seventy-Six Photos

Yesterday, I finished (sort of) editing photos from our trip to Paris. It seemed to take forever. Then, after I finished I discovered why. I have 476 photos. That is the curse of the digital age. And that number doesn't include the blurry ones or the ones where my eyes are closed, etc.

And the good/bad thing is that some of those photos were actually bad. But do to the wonders of modern computer programs, you can fix the bad photos. And I had several bad photos--due to 1. a cheap camera and 2. bad lighting--museums, cathedrals, etc., don't allow you to use flash. So when we got home, I downloaded the photo software, Lightbox (the free version of Sagelight).

Here are some results.

Here the lighting was so bad the ceiling looks dull. 
With the photo editor I was able to bring the photo in line with reality.
So what am I going to do with 476 photos? Clearly, I'm not going to print that many photos. I suppose I could put them on a disk and watch them on our television. We could torture our loved ones by making them sit through a presentation. My daughter, though she said it in kind words, basically told me that she'd be bored out of her skull if we made her sit through 476 photos. Hmm, a new parental threat, "Get those dishes done or you'll have to watch all of our Paris pictures, even the blurry ones. And remember how much I like ceiling vaulting--I got tons of ceiling pictures!"

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Queen's Hamlet

I love irony. But it’s rare to find poignant irony outside of books. I think because it’s easy to miss in real life—we tend to lack a certain detachment that you need in order to see irony.

However, sometimes it smacks you in the face. Especially when it’s in someone else’s life. Even more so when it’s in Marie Antoinette’s life.

When we visited Versailles, we took a hike to The Queen’s Hamlet. It’s in the far corner of the estate, but worth the walk. MA had a peasant village built to use both as an escape from the palace and as a party playground for her and her coterie of hangers-on.

She had a romantic view of peasant life. And so that’s what she got. The sheep and goats were perfumed. Marie Antoinette dressed as a milkmaid. Though an actual milkmaid did the real milking. I can’t help but wonder how history might have been different had she visited a real village and milked a real goat.

Here are some photos of the “hameau.”

Here's the famous Mill. You can't go inside, but that small water wheel couldn't generate much grinding power.

I grew up with relatives who had dairy farms. None of them had marble mosaic floors or fountains in the walls. 

The Hamlet was gorgeous. Totally pristine. So not a real working village.

This was the entrance to the "farm" part of the village. Apparently, there was a real farm a ways outside of the Hamlet that did provide food for the residents.

Here's where the perfumed sheep and goats roamed. Can't you just see MA and her ladies-in-waiting dressed as peasants, giving the sheep and goats hugs and kisses?

I wonder if they're hiring re-enactors. I'd love to get paid to be MA pretending to be a peasant.

N.B. In all fairness to MA, she did wise up and try to help the poor. But by then, it was too late.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Moving Out

This week brought a major change to our lives. Our oldest child Luke moved out. Now we’ve been very spoiled. Our kids have been able to live with us at home while they attended college. (A branch of the University of Tennessee is only a few miles from our home.) And the kids decided to attend there while living at home and thus avoid student loan debt. So we got four more years than most parents get.

But this spring Luke and Ariel both graduated. And Monday, Luke moved to Knoxville to begin working on his PhD in chemistry, focusing on organo-metallics (making an organic molecule with a metal in it).

Of course, the move didn’t go quite like Luke thought. He’d done some sorting and packing in the days before his move, but he didn’t realize he had to pack everything or how long it would take. By lunchtime, Cal and I began helping.

And then, I mentioned to Jacob that the sooner Luke was out of the room, the sooner Jake could move in. (Jake and Matthew have shared a room their entire lives.) At that point, packing went really quickly—Jake is goal-oriented—he put Luke’s stuff in a box, taped it, scribbled a label, and moved it out. So we loaded up our truck and Luke’s car and headed north.

Here’s a photo.

I'm not sure why he likes that hat. It makes him look like Che Guevara, which he thinks is absolutely hilarious.
When we knocked on the door of Luke’s apartment (he’s sharing with two other grad students), braced myself for a grimy mess. A twenty-something guy with curly hair opened the door and invited us in. The apartment was neat and clean. Even the counters and the bathrooms were spotless. I’m still in shock. And I’m wondering if I can hire them.

As for Luke, he’s fine. I talked with him briefly on Friday. According to Luke, work is good, the apartment is good, his roommates are good, and cooking for himself is good. Then, I passed the phone to Cal and they spend fifteen minutes discussing the last Yankees’ game. Yep, everything is good.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Year of Luminous Love Book Signing

Yesterday I got to go to an author signing. (We don’t get too many in Chattanooga.) And even more exciting, the author Lurlene McDaniel is a friend.

Here are some photos from the signing.

Here's Lurlene and me.

Accompanying Lurlene yesterday was debut novelist Lauren Morrill who wrote Meant To Be, a YA comedy I can’t wait to read.
It was a wonderful signing—lots of fans, standing room only! Lurlene talked about her writing, she’s promoting her fiftieth published novel, The Year of Luminous Love. (No that's not a typo. It's her 50th novel.) And it's written for her fans who have grown-up. So Luminous Love is peopled with characters who are a bit older than traditional YA.

The Year of Luminous Love
Here’s the book blurb:

In the vein of Eat, Pray, Love, but for teens, this inspirational novel is set against the backdrop of Tennessee horse country as well as the historic cities of Italy and the Italian countryside. The story unfolds as three teenage girls, recently graduated from high school, plan the next phase of their lives while dealing with immediate life issues. McDaniel subtly explores the many types of love the girls experience--including love for one's family, one's friends, and intimate love--and the sacrifices they choose to make (or not) for each of them.

I’m really looking forward to reading it. Lurlene writes beautifully!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Versailles Needs Feather Dusters

Years ago I did some research on Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, etc., for a novel I was working on. I never finished the novel (though I’d love to go back to it), but the history stayed with me.

So we couldn’t visit Paris without visiting Versailles. It was as amazing as you’d guess. I was disappointed in the fountains—none of them were running and the biggest of the fountains was being restored so it was a maze of construction and dirt.

But here is the Hall of Mirrors.

And a photo of the chapel, from the second story balcony.

And here is Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber.

This is the door she escaped through when the mobs came to Versailles. 

Apparently, the guards feared reprisals from the mobs and when they demanded entry to the palace grounds, the guards opened the gates.

Here’s her bed in Le Grand Trianon, a second smaller palace on the grounds of Versailles.

And here’s her bed in Le Petit Trianon. Apparently, Marie didn’t like the grandeur, pomp, and court intrigue of the main palace or even the much smaller Grand Trianon. So she spent most of her time living in Le Petit Trianon.

Yes, the bed is really tiny. You'd have to curl into a ball to sleep there.

If you go back to the photo of the first bed, note the thick layer of dust on the bedspread--so thick you can't even see the pattern on the fabric. This is one of my few complaints about Paris. The museums and cathedrals have serious dust issues. Cal sneezed a lot. (I took allergy medicine.) I know the French have lots of work maintaining their historical artifacts, so I was thinking that I'd get together a group of dusting friends and we’d dust the museums, churches, etc. (My Dutch immigrant friends have all volunteered—they have a cultural aversion to dust, even a speck.) And the French government wouldn’t have to pay us, just buy us a plane ticket. They wouldn’t even have to get us a hotel room. We’d be happy to bunk out at Versailles.

Any other volunteers want to join us?